Gray Matters


One day I’d like to have my books reprinted so many times that people create multiple covers. I remember the middle one back from when I was either in sixth or seventh grade. 

I’m losing it.

All of it. Totally and completely.

Actually, I think I’ve already lost it.

First, the gray hairs started poking through and now they have definitely taken hold, even the rogue one on my chin. My hands have started looking spotty, and my metabolism has crapped out. Now my IQ seems to be on the way down. It’s definitely dropping. Plummeting might be more accurate. I’m starting to feel very “Flowers for Algernon.”

If you were forced to read that incredibly sad story in school at some point, then you know it was about a mentally challenged man who got to boost his intelligence through experimental surgery and he gets wicked smart, but ultimately the surgery fails. The story does not have a happy ending. I am pretty sure that was my first official exposure to the life-altering discovery that books and movies do not always end happily. Not a fan. I do not like sad stories. And now you can understand why I have not seen “Precious.” Or “Manchester By The Sea.” Or “The English Patient.” Actually, the biggest deterrent to “The English Patient” is its three-day running time.

I have never been particularly brilliant or considered a prodigy at anything, but I was always a solid student who tried hard and by the time I got to college, I finally started to get the hang of college algebra, which I originally began studying in middle school. I never felt like a brainiac, nerd yes, but not a brainiac. At least I felt competent.

These days, not so much.

I’m regularly misreading and misunderstanding things. I ask the kids the same questions repeatedly. OK, I guess I have to admit that’s mostly because I’m not listening to them.

I got an email the other day from an editor who gives me occasional work and it seemed weird because she didn’t use my name and the message was just “can you look this over?” when normally she’s painstakingly detailed with assignments. I knew it was strange, but I clicked on the included attachment anyway. When it wouldn’t open, I clicked it again and then again. I went to pester my husband about my inability to open the document and he got that same, shocked look on his face as he did many years ago when we went to a water park and he slipped into the men’s locker room while I headed off toward the women’s and then nearly smacked into him. I don’t know how I got the entrances mixed up.

So anyway, he explained it was a hacked email and I got a gentle lecture, which I deserved because it was a pretty dumb move. All the flags were there, and I should have seen them waving right smack in my face. But, I am pretty nearsighted.

I’m wondering if there is such a thing as Pandemic Brain? Is it possible that the strain from constant worrying about life and the lack of interaction outside your house bubble and the nonstop trolling of the internet for videos of puppies and ducklings snuggling together could be adversely affecting my gray matter? I’ll accidentally stumble across middle-aged parents doing choreographed dances on TikTok or animated Lego movies of great sports moments and then I’ll get totally and utterly side-tracked. Forever. I never remember what my original online mission was. Honestly, it feels very reminiscent of the mush brain you get when you’re a new parent with a fresh baby in the house.

The other day I tried to place an online order for pickup from a local store and as I was checking out, I clicked on “credit” because that’s how I intended to pay and I was fully expecting to put in my info. Nope. Nothing happened. I clicked again and again. I finally just called the store. The friendly guy on the other end patiently explained that I needed to continue clicking through and the actual inputting of credit card info was further down. Oooooooh. Thank goodness he was right, and my cocktail order sucessfully went through. Now what was that I was just researching online? What was that about alcohol affecting brain cells? Dang it. Good think I can click “history” and get a reminder.


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